Tyrone Water Upgrade Causes Traffic Tie-ups

Machinery and new water pipes for the water system renewal sit in the Legion parking lot on 15th street.

Major parts of Tyrone’s water system are over 100 years old, so instead of just fixing problems such as fractures, breaks, and wear and tear issues as they arise, the Tyrone Borough Council has decided to invest in a major rebuild of the town’s water infrastructure, which began on September 8th and will continue until the project is complete either late this year or into early 2021.

Despite the inconveniences of closed and congested streets and increased water bills, Tyrone Borough Councilman David Snyder is confident that the replacement of the town’s century-old water system will positively impact the community for generations to come.

I encourage us all to remember that our children and their children will benefit from infrastructure updates like this, and if we push through a few minor inconveniences, our efforts will help make life a bit better the people of Tyrone for another 100 years.”

— Tyrone Councilman David Snyder

“It’s our turn [to better our town’s future] and it’s easy to forget how our actions will benefit those that come after us while facing temporary consequences like a congested street or a longer ride to school,” said Tyrone Borough Councilman David Synder.

Due to COVID-19 work restrictions, the start date for the project had to be pushed back from earlier this year to the beginning of this month.

Several companies are working on various parts of the project, including Glenn Johnston, Inc., SE Construction Group, and LLC. According to Snyder, it is difficult to predict exactly when the project will be completed.

“I would say this fall with a possible conclusion either late fall or early spring,” said Synder.

The multi-phase project includes replacing the water mains on west 5th Street from Lincoln Avenue to Reservoir Drive and from Pennsylvania Avenue to 10th Street to 16th Street.
There will also be a second stage to the project; including rehab to the 23rd Street water tank and pump station.

Because 15th street is a heavily utilized street in Tyrone, the water system replacement will significantly impact traffic on this street. While 15th street and Pennsylvania Avenue are under construction, traffic will be filtered into a single lane making the area overcrowded, especially on school mornings.

“It’s the construction on 15th Street that troubles me most regarding the impact on the school and its students. The traffic generated by the project may cause a slight hiccup in the mornings however, I believe these crews are aware of that fact and will help accommodate as best they can,” Synder said.

Tyrone Area School District bus driver, Julia Eckley, agrees that the morning travel will most definitely be impacted by the construction.

“Almost all of the buses utilize 15th street in the mornings and afternoons. We’re hoping that buses will be able to use an alternate route and construction workers will be aware of bus traffic so that we can get through with minimal delays,” said Eckley.

Replacing a water system can be a costly project but the borough was able to include the majority of the compensation for this project in the last wave of water rate increases. By doing so, the community members’ water bills will not be raised.

“The cost, however, is minimal when compared to the alternative of allowing the system to continue to decay, break down, and cause street damage due to water leakage, in my opinion,” said Synder.

In a project like this one, it can be important to have the support of the community.

“I believe the community understands the need to replace these century-old water mains given their more recent tendency to fail,” said Synder.

Community member and a 15th street homeowner, Michelle Keith, supports and accepts the replacement of the water system.

An issue that may arise for many townspeople, including Keith, is the cleanliness of their homes. Depending on the weather, as the construction workers continue to dig and drill in front of houses there may be a significant amount of noise, dust, and mud in the neighborhood.

“This is an unavoidable issue but it is my understanding that our community is in great need of this new water system. I am hopeful that with the upgrades our water will have a less chance of being contaminated due to deteriorating pipes,” said Keith.

Even though replacing a water system can be tedious and get in the way of a normal town routine, according to Snyder it will only bring positive effects.

“I encourage us all to remember that our children and their children will benefit from infrastructure updates like this, and if we push through a few minor inconveniences, our efforts will help make life a bit better for the people of Tyrone for another 100 years. I think of this perspective often while serving on Council in relation to every decision we make… and it makes it all worthwhile,” said Synder.